He changed his mind

The great liberator of India was once challenged by a follower, “Mr Ghandi, yesterday you said one thing. Now today you are saying something else. You are inconsistent!” Ghandi replied simply, “I have changed my mind.” Politicians are not supposed to change their minds. They are supposed to be consistent. Perhaps they think to appear to change smacks of weakness.

And yet some of the greatest among us have changed their mind. Both the great men, much celebrated, of the past 12 months changed their minds radically. Part of President Mandela’s greatness lay in his ability to change his tactics continually and the Pope Francis we have today is very different from the Jorge Bergoglio we had in the 1970s and 80s.

“To grow is to change and to become perfect is to have changed often.” These words of Cardinal Newman point to a beautiful human quality that we easily recognise in people: humility. The humble person is not interested in his/her reputation; how s/he appears to others. S/he is passionate about the truth and if the truth presents itself to them differently today than it did yesterday they do not change the truth to fit their policies, they change their policies to fit the truth.

Humility may be confused with weakness but it should not be. Paul speaks of the “weakness of God” (I Cor. 1:25) as being stronger than human strength and the Bible has an image for it: a lamb. If we think of sheep as rather stupid and helpless what do we say of lambs? Yet the lamb that is sacrificed in the Jewish Passover in Egypt is precisely the image that John the Baptist uses to describe Jesus when he points him out to his disciples; “look, there is the lamb of God!”(John 1:29). And Isaiah had much earlier described the servant of Yahweh as the “lamb led to the slaughter.” (Is 53:7)

We have here what the disciples, and many since their time, have found so difficult to accept: the salvation of the world comes through humility and “weakness.” Jesus brought us freedom not through the barrel of a gun but through his death on a cross. All the solutions we long for – peace in Syria, just international trade, action on global warming and, more locally, “untying the knots” in Zimbabwe – all these will only happen when we, and the “powers” that be, learn humility, change their way of thinking and become “weak.”

Post published in: Faith

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